Inspirational, Interview, Women In Motorsport

Steph Turner: “You’ll end up not working a day in your life if you love your job because it won’t feel like work.”

Thank you to Steph for the opportunity to interview her on Friday. A very intelligent, interesting woman with an obvious passion for what she does! Enjoy the interview!

I chose to interview Steph for my Women In Motorsport section of this blog because of her work for diversity in the sport. It’s incredibly inspiring to see how much more inclusive the paddock is becoming, and I’m so glad she and Ariana Bravo choose to highlight these stories through their Driven By Diversity podcast. Steph actually doesn’t work full-time in motorsport, but she uses the skills she’s gained from her job in a marketing agency for her side projects.

Read on to learn more about Steph and her motorsport journey!

Can you tell us a little about your background, and your current job?

“I work at a marketing agency, but the work that I do. . . in that role isn’t related to motorsport at all. It’s still marketing at the end of the day, so I’m able to apply my skills to work on campaigns and with clients. I have done some social media for F1 in Schools before, and I’ve supported them at Silverstone in 2019 and their World Finals.”

For those who don’t know, F1 in Schools is an initiative to get youth interested in STEM careers, such as engineering. F1 in Schools has a competition every year where children up to age 19 can create and design the fastest racecar they can. The students compete for their school and country. For example, the current champions of the competition are Evolve, UK.

“I was doing all of their [F1 in School’s] social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also supported them at their last World Final event in Abu Dhabi of 2019. They had a brilliant event, students from all over the world came to compete. The team that won the whole thing was from my old school, which was amazing! I basically spent the whole week with my old teacher!”

Steph is shown above next to seven-time F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton.

When did you start watching motorsport?

“When I was your age, actually, at 13. It was when Lewis Hamilton started racing in F1, which was in 2007. My dad had always watched it anyway, but I used to think it was quite boring. It took up all the TV time on Saturday, and all the time on Sunday and being off from school, I just wanted to put a kids show on. I remember I would sometimes watch Formula 1 with him, but just to spend time with my dad. I started properly watching it after Australia 2007. I didn’t sit down and watch Australia 2007, I was just watching when the podium celebrations were happening. My dad was like, “Look. This kid from Britain, it’s his first race, and he came third.” It was Lewis Hamilton, and from then on I watched every race. I still do.”

Steph is pictured next to the 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button.

Is it true that your dad and Jenson Button’s dad raced in rallycross together?

“Yes! My dad used to rally in the 70s. I think they only went for one race together. It wasn’t like they knew each other or anything like that. It was just club rallying, not high-level or anything, but it’s quite cool to know that my dad was racing at the same time Jenson Button’s dad was. It was at a circuit near us, called Lydden Hill.”

Several months ago, you had the opportunity to co-host the Driven By Diversity podcast. Why did you decide to cover the issue of diversity in motorsport?

“I’d always wanted to do a side project to do with motorsport, but I hadn’t quite figured out what it would be. And then, this conversation of diversity and inclusion started happening after the Black Lives Matter movement came to the surface. It then got brought up in motorsport, particularly in Formula 1, as we had the whole We Race As One campaign. I thought, ‘I want to do something about this, this is a conversation that needs to be happening’, and people were now ready to listen. I remember Lewis Hamilton mentioning there wasn’t much diversity in the paddock a good few years before 2020, but no one did anything about it. It was reported, but there were no actions taken. I remember thinking even then that something needed to be done, but because I felt I had no connection to motorsport on the inside, what was I supposed to do? I’d been speaking with Ariana Bravo [co-host of Driven By Diversity], who I met in 2019 at a Dare to Be Different* event. We met at the Williams factory event that they were holding, and I knew that she wanted to be a presenter and go into the presenting side of Formula 1. I messaged her [Ariana] about the idea I had, thinking maybe we should do a podcast together, as we’re both really passionate about diversity and inclusion as well as motorsport. She accepted, and we started planning the podcast. We saw that Driven By Diversity as a brand and initiative had launched at a very similar time that we were due to launch our podcast. It was very similar to what we had wanted to do with our podcast, and we aligned in our mission. We got in contact with Lindsay Orridge, who is the founder of Driven By Diversity, and she was very happy for us to come on board and use Driven By Diversity as a platform for our podcast. That’s how it was born, and it’s been amazing. We’ve had some great guests on. The people that we speak to are from underrepresented backgrounds, and we hope that anyone listening, whether they’re from underrepresented backgrounds or not, can find someone to relate to and feel inspired to pursue their dreams. We also touch on diversity and how important it is to have it in the sport, as well as what the sport can do to include people like females and ethnic minorities.”

Source: Driven By Diversity

Which of the interviews you conducted for Driven By Diversity influenced you the most?

“It’s tough to answer that with any one person, because everyone has their own story, and everyone has their own experiences that are just as important as the others. You can find inspiration in each of our guests, as each of them had such important and inspiring words and advice to share because it was so personal, which really made it relatable.”

You have also been able to host two webinars for Girls On Track UK. You interviewed four incredible women in the sport. What did you learn from them, and how did you benefit from the opportunity?

“Well, first of all, I learnt that there is massive interest from the community generally for that type of content. I was so pleased to see just how many people had joined the chats. They were organized by Girls On Track UK, managed by Motorsport UK, but there were people from all over the world, like Argentina, the US, and the Philippines [who joined]. I also learnt that there isn’t just a straight line to the job you want, you can go in all sorts of circles and zig-zags, but it doesn’t matter if you leave school and don’t get into Formula 1 straight away. It’s about working your way towards your goal and making steps that you need to make to gain the experience needed to really get that role. Formula 1 is the pinnacle, you’ve got to put in the work and take those steps to make it so that you are the best of the best and that F1 will want to have you. There are lots of places you can get that experience, and it doesn’t have to just be from motorsport. You could be working in a field like marketing, or in a different sport entirely. Learn your craft and then apply it to your passion, which if it’s F1, then brilliant, go for it. It’s also very important to network and build your connections.”

Steph at the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS pit wall.

What would your advice be to young women who would like to work in motorsport?

“There’s so much advice that you can give, but the one thing that stands out to me, and that I wish I knew earlier, is to just chase your dream and follow your passion. If you’re committed and dedicated enough, you’ll eventually get there, even if life throws you off course. Just trust the process, and as cheesy as it sounds, do just follow your passion. There’s nothing worse than working your whole life in a job that you don’t love. You’ll end up not working a day in your life if you love your job because it won’t feel like work.”

*Dare To Be Different is now Girls On Track UK, which is managed by Motorsport UK. Dare To Be Different was founded by Susie Wolff, former Williams development driver and the Team Principal of Venturi Racing Formula E Team. If you’d like to check out the program, which I highly recommend, head to their website by clicking here.

All pictures of Steph are credited to her, including the cover image of this article.

Follow On The Pit Wall on Instagram: @otpwblog

Follow Steph on Instagram: @stephjturner_

JUNE 2021 UPDATE: Steph now works in Formula E!